A survey commissioned by the European Commission reveals that nearly 75% of Europeans believe the threat of cybercrime is increasing.
Out of the 27,000 respondents surveyed 89% revealed they avoid disclosing personal information online and 74% agreed the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime has risen in the past year.
The threat of cybercrime has many Europeans concerned with making financial transactions online.
"While ever more people are making the most out of the Internet and benefit from the digital economy, it is not surprising that security of personal information and online payments top the list of our concerns," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. "What is more surprising is that only half of Europeans take effective measures to protect themselves from cybercrime."
12% of EU citizens have become victims of online fraud already with 8% experiencing identify theft. Despite the occurrence of online fraud, over 50%of Europeans have not changed any of their online passwords in the past year.
"Cybercriminals must not be allowed to disrupt our use of the Internet. The more we know about the risks and how to protect ourselves, the more we can truly maximise our digital lives," said Malmström.
Security firm, Faronics, says there is still a clear discrepancy when it comes to people’s online privacy concerns and their actions online.
"While this research suggests that the risk of cybercrime is relatively well known, the fact remains that many individuals are still in denial – believing that they would not become a victim," said Bilmal Parmar, VP of marketing at Faronics. "While consumers seem to be exercising care when using the internet for financial operations, they would do well to remain just as vigilant when engaging with social media outlets."
The European Commission study reveals that 59% of European online users do not feel well informed about the risks of cybercrime.
Parmar advises that changing passwords regularly and using discretion when posting personal information online are some of the most effective ways to prevent cyber attacks.
"At the end of the day, this contradiction is largely down to the fact that people aren’t as aware as they should be when it comes to modern day cybercrime tactics," said Parmar. "The European Commission’s survey reinforces the notion that cybercrime is becoming a genuine fear – and rightly so – but users must start to realise that the only way to avoid becoming a victim is to act on these concerns now. It would be unfortunate if we were to find ourselves limited online through fear – when all that is needed is common sense and a few simple safety checks."
The European Commission proposed in March 2012 to set up a European Cybercrime Centre to protect Europeans and businesses from cyber threats. The centre will monitor illegal web activities by organised crime groups.
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